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Turkey’s dilemma: whose side is Erdogan on?

Istanbul Vladimir Putin’s ill-conceived blitzkrieg in Ukraine has failed thanks, first and foremost, to the guts of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. British and US-supplied anti-tank weapons have played a crucial role, too. But it’s Ukraine’s Turkish–made TB2 Bayraktar drones that have been the war’s most unexpectedly effective weapon. Unexpected not just because of their battlefield

What TV is telling Russians – and why they believe it

If you want to understand how Russians see the world, it helps to watch Russian TV. The Kremlin’s control over the airwaves permeates every part of Russia’s television schedules. There are no longer soaps or series during waking hours, just relentless TV shows about Russia’s place in the world. The popular and execrable ‘news’ discussion

Tina: the drug devastating the gay community

Something is ravaging through the gay community, leaving death and misery in its wake, yet few are willing to talk about it. If I’d written that sentence a generation ago, I’d have been referring to the Aids crisis. But this time the enemy isn’t a virus, but a substance called ‘tina’ or ‘ice’. It is

How should cartoonists respond to war?

Laughter has always been a coping mechanism for dealing with war. Some of this country’s most memorable cartoons have been born out of conflict. Think of Gillray’s ‘Plumb-Pudding in Danger’, Bairnsfather’s ‘Well, if you knows of a better ’ole, go to it’ or Low’s ‘Very well, alone’ – they are the quintessential images that defined

Kirill, the Patriarch in league with Putin

Until very recently, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, was most famous for being the owner of a phantom wristwatch. It had the magical property of disappearing from sight, visible to onlookers only as a reflection. Don’t believe me? Google ‘Kirill’ and ‘watch’ and you’ll find a photo of the Patriarch

Inside Putin’s mind: the lessons of Chechnya

As far as Vladimir Putin is concerned, ‘we are nobody, while he who chance has enabled to clamber to the top of the pile is today Tsar and God’. So said Anna Politkovskaya, the eminent Russian journalist, in her book Putin’s Russia. She continued: ‘In Russia we have had leaders with this outlook before. It

Why I’ve stayed in Kyiv

I write this from my Kyiv air raid shelter. It has become my second home, an improvised bedroom, study and kitchen. For food, we eat bread and borscht. It is a spartan existence, but conducive to reflection. I still can’t get used to the siren that sounds five times a day, although I have got

Notes on...

How Mother’s Day became big business

As ever, the Romans got there first. Their version of Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day was the feast of Juno Lucina, the patroness of childbirth, which happened on the first day of the year, 1 March. Roman mothers wore their hair down and their tunics loose. Their husbands and daughters gave them gifts. It was